Cannabis is a drug that can be used for human benefits.
This has been seen by its wide acceptance in the medical field where marijuana has been beneficial in treating some severe medical conditions.
However, even though cannabis has a wide benefit in human life, still it has not been accepted legally worldwide due to its intoxicant effects. Additionally, people have been more likely to recreational use it instead of using it for medicinal purposes.
This is why most countries have banned recreational marijuana, including South Korea as well.
However, as the developed countries embraced medical marijuana, other countries also faced a rise in demand for medical legalization.
Buy Cannabis Seeds in South Korea
Recently, a few years back, South Korea has relaxed its laws to some extent for medical marijuana enthusiasts.
However, the country has one of the strictest guidelines for marijuana, which one must know before getting hands-on cannabis in South Korea.
Is Weed Legal in South Korea?
This might be the very first question that comes to your mind while thinking about cannabis in this country.
Unfortunately, no! cannabis is not legal in South Korea for personal usage. However, recently in 2018, medical cannabis use was legalized in the country, which was the first-ever decision in favor of cannabis enthusiasts in the region.
Although medical cannabis has been under very strict guidelines, and it is not easy yet to access even that like many other developed countries. Well, we will discuss that in detail later.
Coming to the current situation in the country, accessing weed is quite risky for an individual as there are huge penalties and imprisonment for marijuana-related offenses.
Apart from this, South Korea has a very rich marijuana history, where in ancient times, people used to cultivate and hemp and marijuana for fabric and other essentials.
Overall, in 2023, you cannot access recreational marijuana in South Korea while medical cannabis remains legal.
A Brief History of South Korea Regarding Marijuana
South Korea has a very long marijuana history stretching back to 3000 BCE when people were already aware of the hempen fabric. Clothes, fabric were already a needy essential derivative of hemp.
Coming to the earlier 20th century, marijuana was used for fabric and other purposes still at this time. Even during the late 1950s, around 9,000 hectares of marijuana were cultivated in the country.
However, after that bad time of cannabis started in South Korea. As in 1957, the country banned Indian-grown marijuana. This was the first time ban on cannabis in the country although the Korean Cannabis market was still in action.
Well, the Korean cannabis market also didn’t go so far and it also got banned in all forms in the Cannabis Control Act of 1976. This was due to the surge in marijuana demand among youth after the trend of hippie culture during the 1960s.
So, finally that time, the country completely illegalized cannabis and since then it didn’t legalize it in the region. Although at the end of the 20th century, in 2000, the Narcotics Control Act and the Cannabis Control Act of 1976 got merged yet marijuana remained illegal in all forms in South Korea.
The country didn’t implement any further change in cannabis legislation until 2018 when a bill was proposed to allow individuals with specific medical conditions to use medical cannabis. Fortunately, this bill got the support of the ministry, and on 23 November 2018, medical cannabis usage was legalized in South Korea.
After that decision, South Korea became the first country in East Asia to legalize medical cannabis.
Although this medical cannabis legalization brought many further guidelines that one needs to follow for accessing medical cannabis.
The import of drugs for the same was supposed to start in early 2019. Since then, this country has relaxed marijuana laws for only medical weed enthusiasts.
Summing up the historical journey of the country with cannabis then initially it was quite popular in the country that most of the people were into hemp cultivation and all.
Though as time passed, and many other developed countries followed the marijuana prohibition trend, South Korea also banned its region from illegalizing the use of cannabis.
Although as the demand of allowing cannabis in the medical field increased, the government took a step, and finally medical cannabis was legalized. However, even that can be accessed by following the authority guidelines currently. So, we cannot say that medical cannabis in South Korea is completely legal!
Current Laws in Action in South Korea
Currently, South Korea has been very strict about the adult use of cannabis. Therefore, one must be aware of the current guidelines apart from the implemented laws.
- As adult use of marijuana is illegal, one cannot drive under influence of cannabis. It can lead to heavy penalties and even up to jail.
- After medical legalization, limited cannabis products are allowed in the country, in which Epidiolex is FDA-approved cannabidiol.
- As of March 2019, there have been two qualifying medical conditions for accessing approved cannabis medication. These are Lennox-Gastaut and Dravet syndromes.
Possession, Cultivation, and Consumption
Recreational marijuana possession in South Korea is illegal. Penalties for possession of marijuana can lead the offender to up to 5 years of imprisonment while the monetary fine is set up to 50 million won (South Korea currency, approximately equivalent to $45,000).
Even this country has been so strict that it has also warned its citizens not to indulge in cannabis activities even abroad.
Although ancient Korea has witnessed wide cultivation of hemp for fabric and other essentials. In 2023, cannabis cultivation remains illegal doesn’t matter for which purpose.
As the adult use of cannabis in South Korea is quite restricted, therefore, one cannot grow cannabis plants in any case.
Marijuana consumption in South Korea is as illegal and punishable as other marijuana offenses. The country has allowed medical usage for limited conditions though any marijuana drug which is permitted in the region must be obtained from the authorized centers and consumed in private space only.
Other than permitted marijuana drugs cannot be accessed or consumed in any case.
Medical Marijuana in South Korea
Before November 23, 2018, South Korea has completely banned marijuana while after that, medical cannabis was permitted to some extent.
This legalization didn’t make marijuana for medical use completely allowed to anyone. Rather, this included certain medical patients with some qualifying symptoms. Additionally, a Physician’s prescription was required to process further.
Qualifying conditions included multiple sclerosis, HIV/AIDS, and cancer-related treatments. Also, for such medical conditions, the government has already mentioned the cannabis medication, which can be recommended by the authorized physician.
Well, to access medical cannabis in the country by medical patients, one needs to order online through the Korea Orphan Drug Center, which is government authorized organization that arranges cannabis medication to the needy in the country.
Cannabis medication was allowed to be picked from the center’s offices, however, those people who are far from these centers must have to travel for the same.
Therefore, summing up the medical cannabis laws in South Korea, it is partially legalized and comes with strict guidelines. Unlike many other developed countries where accessing medical cannabis is easy and hassle-free, South Korean medical patients have to follow the implemented guidelines to access that.
Frequently Asked Questions
We can’t predict the future! It completely depends on the authorities of the country whether they want to legalize it for their people.
No! Current legal laws do not permit it. However, if you illegally do the same, you will be punished heavily.
Epidiolex, Marinol, Cesamet, and Sativex are permitted in South Korea which can be used to treat different medical conditions.
The country has not any medical marijuana program cards as of now. Therefore, you do not need any card, however, the patient must need a physician’s prescription for the same.
Once you are approved by the legal authorities, you can access medical marijuana from the centers of Korea Orphan Drug Center, which is a government-authorized organization.
HIV/AIDS, cancer-related treatments, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy are South Korea’s qualifying conditions for medical marijuana products.
If you are caught with cannabis possession in the country, doesn’t matter what the quantity is, you will be monetarily fined up to 50 million won (~$45,000) and can also be sent to jail for up to 5 years.
Buy Cannabis Seeds in South Korea: Final Word
So, finally, you are aware of the current rules, laws, and guidelines that are in action in South Korea. Unfortunately, you cannot buy cannabis seeds there as cultivation remains illegal.
However, limited medical marijuana is permitted which needs authorization to the specific patients for access. Therefore, until the authorities and government do not legalize further, you are bound to access limited medical cannabis in South Korea.